Considering the emphases on pointillist rhythmic-melodic fractals and inter-genre exploration that have animated so many of the tracks we've discussed since the start of February, it's a wonder we're just now getting to Ralph Cumbers aka Bass Clef. Putting out records since dubstep's creative peak in 2006, he's traveled the outer margins of both that innovational genre's constitutional elements alongside a variety of genre and style studies for labels like Punch Drunk, Idle Hands, and Pan that speak to the relentless experimental nature at work within his productions. Mere days into the start of 2018, he popped up in my newsfeed with the announcement of a new label, Open Hand Real Flame, whose guiding intent is to "release music that is multi-BPM, anti-genre and full of heart." A genre nomadic artist coming from Dubstep, like many of his peers from those years--Pearson Sound, Pangaea, Untold, Peverelist, Pinch, A Made Up Sound--his music might go up and down in BPM and change genre from track to track, but the focus always remains as much on rhythmic ingenuity as it does on atmospheric and immersive sonics.
Released on Will Bankhead's hit-and-miss (but always worth a listen) ten-year-old The Trilogy Tapes as the first of two twelve-inch two-trackers, "Entendrillar" starts off rather unremarkably, trading in the vibes of a rave-friendly piano riff and a post-UKG pulsing swing (or swinging pulse) before what sounds like a snipped carnivalesque sample oscillating between two identifiable notes enters the mix head raised high, eyes darting frantically across the bed of wavering percussive tendrils. A low-slung beat that takes in elements of 2-step, house, hardcore, and post-dubstep's technoid pretzels, it's anchored by a slippery kick pattern that refuses to snap into a readily recognizable four- or eight-bar form. Much like the melodic polyrhythms skittering up and down the beat's upper register, familiar forms are touched on but never adhered to as Cumbers sets about interrogating the interiors of his beat. Always playful, there's an unsettlingly celebratory creative engine working up a steam, as if the ghosts of ten bangers have been frankensteined maniacally while retaining that surgical precision. It's a look in the mirror of its own image, an endless reflective pool of reference.